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You know what this world needs more of?  


Once upon a time I was never a cheerleader.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I wanted to be a cheerleader.  I tried out for cheerleading.  Twice.  However, the cards were definitely not stacked in my favor.  If you don’t know me, then let me paint the picture.  I am not a small person.  For 33, I am in decent shape, but I’m more of what you call a gentle giant than delicate flower.  The thing about it is, I have been roughly the same shape and size since I was about 12 years old.  So now picture this 12 year old person trying out for the Middle School cheer squad, where I am the tallest and “curviest” (I don’t know what you call that as a preteen) in the room.  

I remember the night before tryouts, practicing “the splits” in my parents bedroom.  I think I wore a “cheerleading is life” t-shirt that day {nothing like setting yourself up for disappointment}  I was so determined.  I wanted it so bad.  SO BAD.  But, alas, you know how the story goes, I didn’t make the 7th or 8th (really wish someone would have stopped me the second time around) cheerleading team.  I was never a cheerleader.

What I wanted back in the day, what I think most of us want, is acceptance.  Or to be popular, cheerleaders are popular, they are accepted.  I wanted to be cool in Middle School and cheerleading seemed like a no-brainer path to get there.  Now, some 20 years later not much has changed if I’m being honest.  I still want to be accepted.  I want to be liked, maybe even popular, that’s a hard thing to say, but I’ll own it, I don’t really want anyone to hate me.

You know what else cheerleaders have.  Their squad.  We all want the squad, those people, that group who makes us feel amazing.  Cheerleader’s one job is to cheer.  Cheer those athletes -or whoever- on until the final second of the game.  They cheer during the highs and the lows.  They never stop cheering and regardless of the outcome, they are still rooting for their team.  Now who doesn’t like the sound of that!?

You want to know who one of the earliest cheerleaders was?  This is some deep theology here, so it’s ok if you’re not sure…

Paul.  Yep, Biblical cheerleader, Paul.  He touches on it a bit in Romans chapter 12.  In verse 15 Paul writes, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.”  

Rejoice with those who rejoice, the ultimate cheer straight outta NIV.  Paul speaks on this very idea of being there for people, encouraging them, rejoicing.  He also knows that sometimes your team is going to lose and it’s not always sunshine and rainbows so he says, mourn with those who mourn.  This is the hard, sad times, we still need cheerleaders even when the times are tough.  We need people who can meet us at our emotional level.  What a beautiful thought.  The concept here, we don’t have to feel any of these things alone.  Good or bad, we are made to have #squadgoals!

We live in a society where we have instant access to cheerleaders — sometimes.  That’s our good friend social media!  Our friends – all 2, 3, 14 hundred of them, on any given day, are posting something that is rejoice-worthy.  I got a new car!  My daughter got straight A’s!  We went to the zoo!  My baby is walking!  I got the promotion!  We got the house!

Ok, so, here’s the deal.  If you are anything like me, you may not always be feeling the whole ‘rejoice with those who rejoice’ thing.  You might be thinking, “I don’t care about your car… or your kids grades… do we need to see 157 pictures of the reptile house…etc.  Yeah, I know no one thinks those thoughts when browsing the old news feed. 😉

What about the mourn with those who mourn?  We have a little bit of an easier time feeling for those who are struggling — sometimes.  However, sometimes, we don’t.  Sometimes we see things like – I lost my job again.  We found out it’s cancer.  We lost a dear family member this weekend.  I am struggling with a miscarriage.  And again, if you are anything like me, it’s really hard to know what to say, how to respond.  Sometimes we are able to mourn and sometimes we just can’t go there.  A friend of a friend’s son has leukemia.  This little guy is the same age as my son and every time I see something about him, I quickly scroll past.  I just can’t do it.  It’s too sad, it’s too close.  Mourn with those who mourn, but only if it’s not going cause me any pain.

So I channel that Middle School version of myself, I so badly want to be a cheerleader.  I want cheerleaders in my life.  I need them.  We all need the rejoicers and the mouners and everything that comes in between.  How do I get past me?

Back to our cheerleader, Paul.  A few verses before this verse about rejoicing and mourning, he is talking about the Body of Christ – us.  He talks about how we are to not think too highly of ourselves (vs. 6), how our love must be sincere (vs. 9) and how we should be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer (vs. 12).  

Think about those calls of action.  What would it look like to live that way?  Just that sincere love part would make the mourning with those who mourn a natural reaction to someone who was hurting.  And the thinking too highly of ourselves.  Well, I mean, I rarely do that (sarcasm), but I think a lot of my lack of rejoicing when others rejoice just comes from a place of feeling like I’m better.  Ugh so hard to admit, but why would I be supportive of things that aren’t exactly like what I am doing?  The way I parent, the way I eat, the way I shop, the way work, they I interact with people, the way I view the world, the way I feel…whatever it is that makes me think I’m better.  I’ve had to work through that one.  It’s been a bit of a personal campaign of character.  Whenever I’m feeling like I don’t want to rejoice with those who rejoice I remember to choose joy over judgement.  Back to Romans 15, “be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.” (vs. 10).

The other day someone asked me if I was a cheerleader back High School in school.  I laughed so hard, thoughts of my awkward Middle School days instantly came to mind.  “No, I was not”, I replied.  “Oh, she said, you’d made a good one, you’re always so encouraging to people”.  And that’s when I realized I’m finally starting to get it.  To rejoice with those who rejoice is not about me.  It’s about them.  It’s about the people who you encounter everyday, and meeting them where they are.  It’s about love.  That’s the message of Christ…what Paul’s cheer is for me, for all of us.

So let’s be the cheerleaders.  Let’s stop thinking we are better and just rejoice.  Let’s stop being insincere and meet people where they are.  Empathy and love can create the greatest squad we’ve ever know.  I’ll be your cheerleader, will you be mine?



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